Steven Barkdoll
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—Inspired to Travel

Class of 2002, AA Psychology

In the summer of 2000, I had to take a morning math class at Crafton Hills. In this class I met a woman named Teresa Miller who I thought was the most interesting person I’d ever met. She had sold her car, quit her job, put most her worldly possessions in a storage facility and had left the comforts of Southern California to backpack around the world with her girlfriend. Teresa only had 2 outfits, a Eurorail pass and a carefree nature that I was deeply envious of.  Hearing these stories during class breaks every day demystified any fears of traveling. She inspired me to start traveling and encouraged me to take anthropology classes to learn more about the world. 

I attended Crafton Hills from 1999-2002. While there I earned my A.A. in Psychology. After graduating from Crafton I transferred to University of Auckland in New Zealand for a semester abroad. Classes were huge, impersonal and not places for student to teacher interactions. It was here that I missed what Crafton had provided me as a student and learner. The ability to have access to ask questions and engage with professors was not an option in New Zealand. In bigger universities, students take notes in IMAX theater sized rooms. Meeting with graduate students seeking reduced tuition rates in exchange for tutoring was the only time allowed for questioning. This really was not an environment that I enjoyed or wished to continue. I transferred to California State University of San Bernardino missing small class settings. Two years later I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in psychology. From there I transferred to University of Redlands to start my California teaching credential. I finished my teaching credential and then joined the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is an eye opening experience into the parts of the world that don’t make it onto postcards. I spent 27 months living in Eastern Europe in the country of Macedonia. It was the best part of my life that I would never want to do again. I lived with a host family for 3 months and attended daily Macedonian language classes. After, I transferred to my snowy, mountain village where I taught English to elementary school students for 2 years. I never thought I could learn a foreign language or would backpack around Eastern Europe in my free time. But I did, as well as begin my teaching career with a great deal of compassion for my students.

Currently, I’m a 3rd grade teacher at the American School of Sao Paulo in Brazil. I previously taught in Spain and Indonesia.  There is a big, beautiful world outside of southern California.  As much as I love burritos from Cuca’s in Redlands I know that every day I am growing in new ways living abroad. This opened my eyes to viewing the world through the lens of other cultures.  There is a quote from Augustine of Hippo that resonates, and defines my philosophy.

I'm so thankful for the enthusiasm of the professors and the friends that gave me the courage to go out into the world. But as an educator I realize that having a voice in the classroom is important for my students, regardless of the country. Being both accessible as a person and as an educator is important students. Crafton is more than classes dispersed amongst insanely steep hills. And there is more to the school than amazing French toast on those rare mornings that you can make it classes early. Crafton taught me the basics of being a quality educator that is internationally minded.